The engine is otherwise refined, barring its full-throttle, rev-counter roaming vocality – although the swift-acting stop-start system does serve to intermittently remind you that it's definitely a diesel, with the momentary silence and then eruption of noise highlighting how much quieter a petrol would be.
Predictably the BMW also appears to struggle to meet its claimed economy figures. BMW states an average of 64.2mpg but during testing our example averaged 40mpg, after a mix of driving. Adopting a pedestrian, unswerving gait on the motorway may permit you to achieve headier heights but, if you're considering a 518d, we'd suggest you take 40mpg as the baseline and anything above will be a bonus. Either way this means you'll revel in a potential range of upwards of 600 miles.
All in all, the 518d is a reassuringly competent – and quietly satisfying – car to drive, particularly in the specification tested. It corners with aplomb, with plenty of front-end grip and well weighted, precise steering, and there's plenty of traction and stopping power on offer. Its high standards of body control and smooth ride make even fast cross-country driving both comfortable and rewarding, too. It's one of those cars that proves adept in pretty much any situation, a car that you'd be happy to see waiting for you in an airport car park at the end of a long day or at the start of a trek across some Welsh highlands.
Inside little has changed; it's still as comfortable, quiet and as well designed as ever. Admittedly the design of the interior isn't as cohesive or modern-looking as that of, say, the Audi A6, but it's still smartly styled – and there's plenty of room in the cabin and the boot alike.
Luxury trim models feature a lot of equipment as well, helping justify the nigh-on £35k list price – which may otherwise seem a lot for a four-cylinder diesel saloon. The standard SE model on which the Luxury is based features dual-zone climate, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, DAB, a 6.5-inch colour screen, Xenon headlights, leather trim, tyre pressure monitoring, automatic lights and wipers, parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Opting for the Luxury specification, however, expands on this further with a 20GB hard disc drive-based media system, myriad upgraded trims and detail parts, the BMW Professional Media system with sat-nav, a sports multi-function steering wheel and voice control.